updated 03/05/2010 AT 6:00 PM ET
•originally published 03/06/2010 AT 6:30 PM ET
The votes are in, the pre-parties are in full swing, and all of Hollywood is hoping it won’t rain: The 82nd Annual Academy Awards are just a day away! PEOPLE movies editor Samantha Miller takes a look at who will – and who should – take home Oscar gold Sunday night.
Nominees: Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, The Hurt Locker, Up, Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire, A Serious Man, Inglourious Basterds, Up in the Air
Ten movies were nominated this year, but the biggest race has narrowed to two – and it’s a down-to-the-wire thriller. In one corner, there’s Avatar, which blew away box office records and renewed audiences’ excitement about going to the movies. Its wondrous special effects made us all feel like kids again, from the blockbuster battles to the smallest touches (loved the seeds that floated like tiny jellyfish). Meanwhile, the indie Iraq War tale The Hurt Locker is every bit as thrilling as its behemoth rival. The drama about a bomb-disposal squad delivers nail-biting tension, magnetic performances, and a provocative portrait of men under pressure that sticks with you like desert grit. Hurt Locker deservedly snapped up many of the pre-Oscar awards, so the odds are in its favor. For the biggest prize of all, though, with millions of fans watching, it’s hard not to pull for the big, bold Avatar, for the way it reinvented how we see movies.
SHOULD WIN: Avatar
WILL WIN: The Hurt Locker
Nominees: Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side), Helen Mirren (The Last Station), Carey Mulligan (An Education) Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia)
It’s an A-list showdown: Sandra Bullock, who nabbed her first-ever nomination, vs. Meryl Streep, the most-nominated actress in Oscar history. Both turned in wonderfully entertaining performances as formidable real-life women in otherwise so-so movies. As Leigh Anne Tuohy, a wealthy Southern mom who takes in a homeless teen, Bullock provided the tart wit needed to balance a sappy story. But Streep brought such joy to her performance as Julia Child – along with layers that brought it so much further than impersonation – that it’s hard to imagine any other actress pulling off the role. The Academy will probably give the edge to Bullock as a reward for her stellar career (and stratospheric year, with The Proposal also being a box-office smash).
SHOULD WIN: Streep
WILL WIN: Bullock